Washington Babylon — November 21, 2007, 12:19 pm

Animal Welfare Institute Replies to Horse Slaughter Story

I received an outpouring of critical e-mails in reply to my recent post about a bill called the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (AHSPA), which would ban the killing of horses for human consumption and bar the export of horses for slaughter. I suggested that the legislation might do more harm than good and that neglect and abuse of horses had increased after domestic slaughterhouse were shut down this year. And I said that the closure of those slaughterhouses had led to increased export of horses for slaughter to Mexico, where conditions are said to especially awful.

Chris Heyde, the Deputy Legislative Director of the Animal Welfare Institute, wrote and called my article “one of the most misinformed” he’d seen to date on the topic. His letter, slightly edited, appears below. I might return to the topic later but I’ll say one thing here. It seems to me that in the end, eating horsemeat is not any different than eating pork, beef, chicken, or Thanksgiving turkey. You’re either a vegetarian or you’re not, and if you’re not it’s hard to argue that the French should be deprived of horsemeat burgers while Americans should be free to enjoy a T-bone.

One fact worth noting, which Heyde points to in his letter: A number of pleasantly named groups, like the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Horse Welfare Coalition (the former is a member of the latter) claim to be part of a “grassroots” campaign that opposes the AHSPA. Yet the Horse Welfare Coalition’s website is registered to SciWords, a PR firm that works for the slaughterhouses. (Make sure to check out the other members of the grassroots campaign.) And the Coalition’s spokesman, Charles Stenholm, is a former Democratic House member from Texas whose Washington law firm also represents the slaughterhouses. That doesn’t mean that their arguments are wrong, but the groups are hardly independent as they try to appear.


Ken,

I suggest you check out vetsforequinewelfare.org for information from vets actually involved in the issue. There has been no evidence of increased abandonment or cruelty. In fact, the only evidence we do have is that abuse, neglect and theft decreased. A UC Davis report conducted after California banned horse slaughter in 1998 found that horse abuse did not increase. According to the California Livestock and Identification Bureau horse theft decreased by over 34% following the ban. For a state with the second largest horse population that is significant. Stats from the Illinois Department of Agriculture and Hooved Animal Humane Society (the largest equine cruelty investigation program in Illinois) show that cruelty decreased in that state when the slaughterhouse closed down after a fire several years ago.

Several state cattlemen associations have told Members of Congress that horses have been abandoned in their respective state’s national forests only to be proven wrong. I have support of this from one Senator’s office and an email from the National Park Service in Ohio saying no such thing is taking place. An article from Kentucky claimed horses were being abandoned on old coalmines, but it turned out the local riding stable turns their horses loose in the winter to graze. Pro-horse slaughter groups are doing more to scare the public than help the situation.

What may be the most egregious action on this issue is taking place at the hands of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The AVMA is telling everyone we should keep slaughter active in the US because of how bad it is in Mexico. However, they fail to point out that they are part of a coalition with the slaughterhouses themselves. These same slaughterhouses also own the plants in Mexico and Canada and are continuing to buy US horses, ship them to their plants and cruelly slaughter them as even professed by the AVMA. Ironic isn’t it? According to US Department of Agriculture’s Guidelines for Handling and Transporting Equines to Slaughter over 92% of the horses slaughtered are good sound horses.

Thank you for listening and for doing a follow up. This issue is very serious and deserves serious attention.

Sincerely,

Chris Heyde

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2015

In the Shadow of the Storm

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Measure for Measure

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Trouble with Israel

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Camera on Every Cop

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
“The campaign music stopped. Hundreds of people, their faces now warped by the dread of a third bomb, began running for cover.”
Photograph © Guy Martin/Panos.
Article
Part Neither, Part Both·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Eight months pregnant I told an old woman sitting beside me on the bus that the egg that hatched my baby came from my wife’s ovaries. I didn’t know how the old woman would take it; one can never know. She was delighted: That’s like a fairy tale!”
Mother with Children, by Gustav Klimt © akg-images
Article
What Recovery?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Between 2007 and 2010, Albany’s poverty rate jumped 12 points, to a record high of 39.9 percent. More than two thirds of Albany’s 76,000 residents are black, and since 2010, their poverty rate has climbed even higher, to nearly 42 percent.”
Photograph by Will Steacy
Article
Rag Time·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

From a May 23 commencement address delivered at Hofstra University. Doctorow died on Tuesday. He was 84.
“We are a deeply divided nation in danger of undergoing a profound change for the worse.”
Photograph by Giuseppe Giglia
Article
The Trouble with Israel·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“We think we are the only people in the world who live with threat, but we have to work with regional leaders who will work with us. Bibi is taking the country into unprecedented international isolation.”
Photograph by Adam Golfer

Chance that a U.S. criminologist thinks abolishing the death penalty would increase the murder rate:

1 in 10

Villagers in Bangladesh found a missing woman halfway down a python’s throat.

The FAA announced it would investigate an 18-year-old Connecticut man who posted a YouTube video showing a homemade drone firing a handgun.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today